Tech Classes at Six Mile Regional Library District Help Bridge Digital Divide

A new educational program at the Six Mile Regional Library District in Granite City is helping to bridge the digital divide among senior citizens in the area.

The library district has been awarded $25,473.84 from the Illinois Broadband Innovation Fund to offer internet technology classes at its two locations.

“Primarily, we have a lot of senior citizens taking advantage of this program, which is great, because they're either considering buying a computer to keep in touch with their families, or possibly they're exploring other technologies to help them keep in touch with people,” said Kelly Meier, who teaches the classes for Six Mile Regional Library District.

More than 300 people are expected to take advantage of the classes, learning to conduct various web functions like use e-mail and find information through Google searches.

“What it seems like the community needs is some skill in looking for jobs, finding out more about health care and what their options are there, also in social services,” Meier said. “I know that it's making a positive impact on their way of life.”

Meier said the class aims to increase confidence for seniors wanting to become more tech savvy.

That's the case for Marilyn Stegall, a local senior who's become a regular at classes.

“I'm learning a lot about the computer because I haven't had one for a long time, and everything is so different now,” she said. “Kelly is an excellent teacher, and this program has been very helpful... I hope to learn anything I can. As they say, you're never too old to learn.”

Stegall said she plans to use e-mail to keep in touch with her family more. She also likes the idea of having a world of information just a click away.

Meier said she likes to build confidence in her students by showing them something familiar. She'll commonly instruct students on how to look up old “I Love Lucy” clips, or episodes from “The Andy Griffith Show” on Youtube.

Meier added that there's more than one way technology education can help seniors connect with younger family members.

“I've discovered that grandchildren will come to their (grandparents') homes and show them how to use the technologies, so it's a nice little bonding thing between the generations,” she said.

Meier said her students seem to be catching on quickly, and she enjoys seeing faces in her classroom light up when new discoveries are made.

“I think it's very important to keep up with the skills they're needing and close that digital divide,” she said.

Six Mile Library District's contacted at 618-452-6238, or online at

Tags: Digital Divide, education, illinois broadband innovation fund, six mile regional library district

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